This week! Books!
I’ll never forget it. When I was on vacation in Hawaii in the late 2000s, I checked my email and it was nothing but “new follower” notifications from Twitter. Sandwiched in between hundreds of these alerts was a congratulations. I’d made Twitter’s inaugural “Who to follow” list. Everyone from Mike Tyson to Margaret Atwood to Mark Cuban started following me. Twitter launched a new career for me in social media, which eventually led to product and program management.
In October 2022, Elon Musk famously walked into Twitter HQ in San Francisco holding a sink solely to make a dumb pun about letting it “sink in” that he now owned Twitter. In those early days, while I was certainly no Elon fanboy, I was optimistic that expanding verification might solve some of the issues on the platform. At the very least, I reasoned, Musk wants to make money, right? He wouldn’t really light $44 billion on fire, right?
Well. That ended up being one of my worst predictions of all time. Just read Casey Newton, who has essentially already written Twitter’s obituary. I never imagined Musk completely dismantling verification as we knew it and creating instead an incentive structure to spread misinformation. (I imagined something more like the way Meta implemented it). I misread his motives and actually don’t think he minds lighting $44 billion on fire if it means he gets to spread conspiracy theories and be the top edgelord on what’s left of Twitter.
Twitter is toast. RIP.
Renowned cultural institution 92NY (better known as the 92nd Y or just the Y) made the pretty distressing-to-say-the-least decision to “postpone” a talk Pulitzer Prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen was scheduled to give with Min Jin Lee due to critical comments Nguyen has made about Israel. The event moved to McNally Jackson’s instead, and the leader of 92NY’s Unterberg Poetry Center called 92NY’s decision “unacceptable.” After multiple resignations at 92NY and several authors pulling out of events, 92NY announced that it was suspending its literary series.
Meanwhile, Scholastic backtracked on its segregated book fairs, releasing a statement apologizing for the decision. After some authors noted that Scholastic’s statement did not clarify whether the titles would be reintegrated, Scholastic released a second second statement that said they were “working to find a better way” without really clarifying what that means. Keep an eye on this one.
With a newsletter headline like “The most interesting statistic in publishing” one had better deliver, and Ken Whyte did just that. He notes the decline in fiction sales at Penguin Random House (genre fiction in particular) and ties it to the rise of self-publishing on Amazon. Sales on Amazon are a notorious black box, but Whyte makes a persuasive case.
I hadn’t even realized that Calvin & Hobbes artist Bill Watterson had a book coming out this month with illustrator John Kascht, but I really enjoyed Rivka Galchen’s review and reappraisal of his past work. I really enjoyed The Mysteries too.
And in writing advice news, Anne R. Allen writes that NaNoWriMo could help you get over your “creativity wound,” and I really liked this post by Sara Zarr about all the things that go into writing a novel that don’t end up on the page. Not everything you do for research must be woven in! It’s there between the lines!
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- The Exchange by John Grisham
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
- Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Gamus
- Two Twisted Crowns by Rachel Gillig
- Wildfire by Hannah Grace
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
- Prequel by Rachel Maddow
- Enough by Cassidy Hutchinson
- Worthy by Jada Pinckett Smith
- Behind the Seams by Dolly Parton
Young adult hardcover:
- Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
- Curious Tides by Pascale Lacelle
- A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid
- This Winter by Alice Oseman
- Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw
Middle grade hardcover:
- Wings of Fire: A Guide to the Dragon World by Tui T. Sutherland
- The Official Harry Potter Cookbook by Joanna Farrow
- The Harry Potter Wizarding Almanac by J.K. Rowling
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, watching a statue of Robert E. Lee getting melted down was the most satisfying thing I saw during a very distressing week of news. And wouldn’t you know, Elon Musk saw this too and celebrated his Twitter anniversary by sinking to a new low. See what I did there. Get it. Sink. It’s a sink pun.
Have a great weekend!
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